February 19, 2012

Law and Order Excerpts from the Mt. Vernon Signal (15 Dec 1922)



This is the first post in what I hope will be a series of posts containing crime/law related articles from my favorite historical newspaper, the Mount Vernon Signal of Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County, Kentucky.

I'm going to begin with the last issues available for the Signal and work backwards.  So these first articles come from the December 15, 1922 issue.  (Remember, Prohibition in the United States lasted from 1920-1933.)


Elijah Hines was fined $15 and cost for failing to work county road.  He was sent to jail to pay the fine.  Mont Owens of Pulaski county, was fined $10 and cost for drunkness.  He was also fined $50 and 10 days in jail for carrying a pistol and to top the whole thing off he was fined $100 and cost and 30 days in jail for transporting liquor.  Owens' total fined $184.50.  He is now rooming at "Hotel Miller."  Bill Perciful was taken in tow on the streets this week and fined $10 and cost for being drunk.

On last Thursday night Sheriff D. G. Clark, Judge S. F. Bowman, Deputies Bill Anglin and Isom Saylor left here about midnight and went to the Crooked Creek section near the spot where Abe Chasteen was killed some years ago.  Continuing they arrived at a large moonshine still at the head of Lost Hollow, watching this until about noon next day.  No shiners showed up and they considered the 200 gallons of beer too far gone to make whiskey and they destroyed the outfit which was an eighty gallon capacity with all the trimmings except the worm.

The regular December term of Circuit Court opened Monday.  The following named men were selected to serve as Grand and Petit jurors:

Foreman, Sollie Griffin, W. A. Owens, R. G. Lutes, W. M. Manus, James Thomas, David Webb, D. L. Bryant, S. Overbey, D. M. Cummins, W. M. McHargue, G. P. Burdette and Grant Banks

PETIT JURY, PANEL NO. 1.  Artie Burk, R. L. Bray, W. D. Payne, T. R. Mullins, M. G. Kirby, Beecher Smith, P. C. Lair, J. W. Mink, J. H. Doan, G. R. Evans, J. J. Cummins, J. H. Doan, Jonas McKenzie.

PANEL NO. 2.  W. S. Branaman, Tom Kirby, G. M. Sigmon, S. A. Drew, Geo. Long, Sam Fields, Josiah Cummins, W. D. Potts, C. G. McKinney, C. L. McKinney, Zeb Hall.

Those who had drawn verdicts of guilty up to Thursday morning are Bill and John Croucher $100 and 30 days each for selling liquor, Booge Gadd $125 and 30 days same offense.  Booge Gadd $100 and 30 days for having liquor in possession, Cood Croucher $100 and 30 days for selling liquor.  Geo. Dickerson 2 yrs. in State Reformatory on a charge of grand larceny, Jim French $50 and cost moonshining.  Henry Hale $10 and cost in three cases drunk, $50 and cost for shooting on public highway and $20 and cost for disturbing public schools.  John Brummett $10 and cost for being drunk.  Bradley Legeer 2 yrs, in the State Reformatory for house breaking, Harve Mink Jr., $100 and 30 days for transporting liquor.


Wm. Gillis, Marshall of the good town of Livingston and Harrison Ponder, constable, made a raid in the Engle Creek section of this county near Rockcastle river, yesterday and captured four moonshiners right in the act of making the damnable stuff.  The captured men are Oscar Rice, Sam Waddle, Fount Phelps and Doc Waddle.  They were running a copper outfit which was pronounced one of the best ever captured in this county.  All four of these men have a reputation as being experts in this line of work.  They were lodged in jail.  If the good people of the county will co-operate with the officers in locating these stills the day will come before long when they will be a thing of the past in this county.

Out-of-county news reported in this issue of the Mount Vernon Signal:


Robert E. Duff and David Treadway Killed by Moonshiners in Menifee County.  In an effort to break into a cavern, barricaded with logs, rocks and brush, in which the Ballard Gang was operating a moonshine still, Robt. E Duff federal prohibition agent under Sam Collins and one of the gamest and best men in the service was shot and killed December 9.  It is said that Bob Ballard, noted moonshiner, did the shooting.  On December 10th, while a posse was attempting to capture the Ballard gang, David Treadway was shot an instantly killed near the scene of the shooting of Duff on Saturday.  He was shot from ambush.


Circuit court convened at Mt. Olivet, Robertson county, last week, was the shortest session ever held in the State.  The petit jury was selected, but as there was only one case to be tried and that was compromised after the jury was sworn they were immediately dismissed.  The grand jury adjourned after a brief session of a few hours without returning any indictments.  Only one person has been sent to penitentiary from Robertson county in several years.


It seems now that the murderers of Lura Parsons, the Pine Mountain school teacher, victim of a brutal crime more than two years ago, may have to face trial in a court of justice.  Last week indictments were returned in the Harlan circuit court against Jerry Reed and James Robinson, negro convicts who were at work in that section of the state when Miss Parsons was murdered, and John Marcum, of Clay county, a camp guard at the time of the killing.

The indictments are the result of a secret investigation conducted by the local authorities, resulting in the finding of Miss Parsons' pocket-book, which one of the convicts had sold to another, after the camp was closed and the men taken back to Frankfort, and of the blood stained underwear of one of the convicts, which was found in a hollow tree on the mountain trail.

It is reported in the press that one of these convicts is "out on parole," and it is likely he still will be out on parole, if he reads the papers or hears of his indictment.

Reports from Frankfort that the news indictments are the result of an attempt to "frame" the men accused in order to claim the reward of $1,500 also are to be taken into consideration, an it may be true that the hopes of the people of the state for an early conviction and just punishment of the slayers of Miss Parsons will again be disappointed.

As Daniel Webster once said, "Murder will out."  That used to be a great deal truer than it is nowadays, for in recent years this country has had a number of murders for which no man ever has been arrested and punished.

We hope the Harlan grand jury is not on a cold trail this time, as it was in former trials, growing out of this abominable murder.--Interior Journal.

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